positive law

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

1651: From Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan

Noun[edit]

positive law (usually uncountable, plural positive laws)

  1. (law) Law explicitly made, as compared to natural law, prescribed by express enactment or institution.
    • 1651, Thomas Hobbes, The Leviathan.
      We know that generally in all commonwealths, the execution of corporal punishments, was either put upon the guards, or other soldiers of the sovereign power; or given to those, in whom want of means, contempt of honour, and hardness of heart, concurred, to make them sue for such an office. But amongst the Israelites it was a positive law of God their sovereign, that he that was convicted of a capital crime, should be stoned to death by the people.
    • a. 1862, John Codman Hurd, The Law Of Freedom And Bondage In The United States‎, page 576:
      But the same term, positive law, is also very often used to designate statute law or positive legislation, as distinguished from customary or unwritten law derived by the judicial application of natural reason.
    • 1962, Frederick Copleston, A history of philosophy, volume 2‎, page 418:
      There are four kinds of law: the eternal law, the natural law, the divine positive law and human positive law.

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